June 13, 2024

Checkpoint not responsible for Enugu-Onitsha expressway accident — Army

Checkpoint not responsible for Enugu-Onitsha expressway accident — Army

The Nigerian Army said the Ugwu Onyeama checkpoint was not responsible for the accident that occurred on the Enugu-Onitsha expressway on Wednesday, June 12.

The military headquarters made this clarification in a statement via its X handle @HQNigerianArmy on Thursday.

Vanguard gathered that four people were reported dead from the accident while 10 others comprising eight male adults and two females sustained different degrees of injuries.

The Army was responding to media reports that claimed its checkpoint was responsible for the accident and the loss of lives, which the Army countered by confirming only two fatalities.

The statement reads, “The attention of Headquarters 82 Division Nigerian Army has been drawn to the news circulating in some mainstream and social media platforms attributing the Division’s Checkpoint at Ugwu Onyeama as the cause of an unfortunate and tragic accident that claimed 25 lives on 11 June 2024.

“On receipt of the information from an online journalist that sought clarification about the incident, he was informed one-off that the Division does not have a checkpoint there but rather, it has a Location/Base by the roadside to curb the incessant kidnappings the area was hitherto known for.

“This report is inaccurate and full of falsehoods that are meant to tarnish the appreciable efforts of the troops. It is therefore necessary to set the records straight. First, the Division wishes to condole and commiserate with the families whose loved ones were involved in the tragic incident and also pray for the speedy recovery of those injured.

“The troops only have a base and the barriers used for the checkpoint were removed. Due to the steep gradient of the road, the section has remained problematic since the 1990s before, during, and after the checkpoints were removed.”

The Army also clarified that the accident was caused by an oncoming truck’s brake failure while descending from a slope at the 9th Mile axis ahead of the checkpoint and not at the Army’s checkpoint.

“The accident that occurred yesterday happened about 300m ahead of the soldiers’ base. Preliminary investigation revealed that the accident occurred due to a brake failure of a trailer coming downslope from 9th Mile Axis.

“The trailer rammed into other incoming vehicles from Enugu and not those coming from the same Axis of the 9th Mile with it. Hence, the crash was a head-on and not a rear collision.

“Thus, the soldiers never stopped any vehicle on the road for any checking but served as a responder to the accident. Also, while the loss of any life is unfortunate, however, only 2 people died at the scene of the accident and not 25 cases being reported.”

The Army further stated it is aware of the efforts of illegal miners and kidnappers operating in the area to get rid of the checkpoint, as such an act would enable them to freely carry out nefarious activities.

“It is disheartening to accuse the military of causing the accident. The Division is not unaware of the efforts of the kidnappers and illegal miners in the area to get rid of the checkpoint.

“The law-abiding citizens are once again assured of the commitment of the 82 Division Nigerian Army to continue to serve them as the Nigerian Army remains the Peoples’ Army.

“The general public is hereby enjoined to disregard the report as it is not the actual account of what happened. The Division will continue to perform its constitutional roles of protecting lives and property within its Area of Responsibility,” the Army said.

Meanwhile, the Federal Road Safety Corps earlier said 25 individuals were rescued from a road accident on the Enugu-Onitsha expressway at Ugwu Onyeama, which occurred on Tuesday.

The agency also said of the “29 individuals involved in the collision, 10 sustained various injuries, while tragically, four lost their lives.”

The Corps Marshal, FRSC Shehu Mohammed, in a statement signed by the corps spokesperson, Olusegun Ogungbemide, on Wednesday ordered a comprehensive investigation into the incident and swift legal action against the responsible driver.

Initial reports suggested that excessive speeding was the root cause of the crash, involving a total of seven vehicles.